The Futurists: An animated guide to complexity and planning for the future

In a five-part series on Singapore's efforts in tackling the future, The Straits Times examined how Singapore has leapt into the world of trend-spotting. Research centres have been set up to find ways of reducing the country's vulnerability to future shocks in today's highly unpredictable world.

To explain the many complex issues that Singapore and other countries are facing, an animation series was done by Manuel A Francisco and Bryandt Lyn from ST Art, Ling Yu You and Hiroshi Chee from ST Digital and M Nirmala from The Straits Times. They spent weeks, preparing the artwork and bringing this work to reality through animation.

In the first episode, the team explained what complexity is and how tough it is to spot and tackle complex problems. People can learn from ants as these insects constantly look for new pathways to find food for their survival. 

Next, five steps were sketched out for those who want to try their hand at planning for the future.

In the part on weathering social storms, the animation work looked at the longitudinal study that will be done in Singapore on what makes the modern Singapore family stay together. The findings will help policy makers figure out what is important to people, and which relationships are strong or weak.

How people will live, work and even eat is the focus of episode 4. Man could be living in homes built on floating platforms in the ocean and munching on bugs and insects as a source of nourishing food.

In the final episode, the animated artwork explores five ways to help companies succeed and survive the future unknowns.